Romance Through The Ages

As it's Valentines Day I thought I'd jump aboard the lurrrve boat and write a romance related post; more specifically, about what love and romance have meant to me throughout the different stages of my life. It's normal for our perception of something to change as we grow up and experience more of the world. Much like I look back and cringe at what I wore in my yoof (Argos jewellery/Reebok classic combos, double denim before it was cool, feather boas long after they were cool) it's also quite startling to recall what my definition of love and romance meant back then too.

When you're at school it doesn't take much. Holding hands on the way to assembly or being presented with a Bubblegum 'groovy chick' keyring from Clintons on Valentines Day was sufficient enough evidence that someone 'proper liked you'. When I was about 14 or 15, I remember a boy proclaiming his feelings towards me with a geography based anecdote. He said (and this is no word of a lie):

"Laura, you are my gravel." (Stay with me here) "All of the other girls are sedimentary rock and metamorphic rock. They get worn away. But you'll always be there because you're like gravel."

I remember that tenuous little speech, in which I was compared to an aggregation of small stones, with such clarity because at the time it was just about the most romantic thing anyone had ever said to me. That was until a friend told me to get a grip, reminding me that gravel wasn't just common but something that people tended to walk all over. That kind of burst my bubble. Unsurprisingly it didn't work out with Gravel Boy but I still think of that little spiel with a chuckle and an eye roll. I guess when you're that age, you can find the romance in just about anything if you persuade yourself enough.

As my teens progressed so did my standards - thankfully. Like most teenage girls, I was heavily into American, teen movies and soon began basing my ideas of 'the perfect man' on the likes of Freddie Prinze, Jr in She's All That which was, admittedly, aiming a bit high. Still, those teenage romances were the best. MSN conversations that went on late into the night when the words seemed to flow far more freely than they ever did when you'd bump into one another in the college canteen. DIY cassettes recorded off the radio. Butterflies in your stomach. Passing your driving test and spending hours in Mcdonalds car park laughing over chocolate milkshakes. Those relationships were often short lived but it was still a special time when romance did feel a bit like those American movies. It was something new and exciting and you were free to explore it with little or no pressure.

University was weird. I went through a big break up during that time so I was generally of the opinion that love sucked and all men were the spawn of Satan. Once I was single, I can't say that much romance flourished out of the nights spent in sticky floored clubs necking Cheeky Vimpto as if it was going out of fashion (it was). There were 'couplings' of course but I'm not sure they could be described as the romantic kind. However, quite a few of the couples I knew at uni have gone the distance; some of them are married now. I guess for some people, those are the years when you lay the foundations for your future. For others it's a time to experiment, go a bit crazy and see your last few years of responsibility shirking out with a bang (quite literally, for some). I was a big fan of The Arctic Monkeys at the time and that lyric 'there int no romance around here' probably sums up my uni years quite well.

In my mid-twenties I fell pregnant. But this time, it wasn't like the movies. There might have been a baby but there hadn't been any romance in that relationship for a long time. It didn't work out but (this is going to sound ridiculously cheesy) having Jack made me aware of a higher form of love. One where you put someone else entirely before yourself. My heart was too full with that to be worrying about finding a man and in between early mornings, nappy changes and sterilising bottles I didn't have much time for romance anyway. Dating was off the agenda unless it involved another mum and a soft play centre. And for a while that was all I needed.

Then Carl came along. We'd been following each other on Twitter for a while but the first time we met he was DJing in a bar and I was on a rare night out. Totally off my face on cheap Pinot, I staggered over to his box and slurred something along the lines of "'iyaaa, it's Laura, off of Twitter." He looked confused and a bit scared but with those immortal words a seed had been planted and now, two years on, we're still together. These days romance is found in the day to day. Letting me have a lie in while he gets up with Jack. Bringing me home a bar of Milka just because. Putting up with my horrific PMT. To quote another musician (because it's Valentines day and I'm allowed to talk through the medium of love song) 'it's not always rainbows and butterflies, it's compromise that moves us along.' I think there's a lot of truth in that. He's definitely not Freddie Prinze, Jr but he's still pretty cool. It's also his birthday today so if you're reading this (which I know you will be you blog stalker) Happy Valenbirthday, I love you.

Whatever your perception of romance is, I hope that you have a lovely Valentines day.

10 Signs That You're a Working Mum

Regardless of your employment status, being a mum is a full time job and a constant juggling act. But if, like me, you're a mum who also happens to go out to a conventional workplace for part of the week (where you're usually required to give the impression of being competent and professional and awake) then things can definitely get tricky. There will almost certainly be some giveaway signs that you're a working mum. Here are some I've experienced.

1) No matter how early you get up in the morning you will always arrive at work at least 10 minutes late as standard. On the mornings when you're running particularly late your child will refuse to go into nursery unless you spend 20 minutes kissing and cajoling him.

2) You will regularly arrive at work with spatterings of your child's breakfast and/or bodily fluids somewhere on your person. You won't notice this until mid morning by which time you've greeted most of the management.

3) You know the true meaning of the walking dead when forced to attend a 2 hour, AM meeting on fire safety after being up all night with a poorly toddler.

4) You often reach into your bag for some work related item and instead pull out Buzz Lightyear.

5) Your packed lunch will usually contain all one of the following: Pom Bears, a Milkybar or a fruit bag (because nothing says sophistication like some pre-sliced apple in a cellophane packet with waving fruits on it).

6) You will find yourself humming 'Hello, are you?' in the photocopier room more often that you'd care to admit.

7) You have the most productive lunch breaks ever. This is your prime opportunity to cram all of those mundane but necessary jobs into one, toddler-free hour. These may include hair cuts, smear tests or Tesco big shops.

8) On a Sunday evening you secretly feel a little bit excited about the prospect of a solo wee, having adult conversation and drinking a coffee while it's still hot.

9) You feel like a rubbish mum when you leave your child to go to work.

10) You feel like a rubbish employee when you leave work to go to your child.

Are you a working mum? Do you juggle the two roles successfully?

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

The Great Ear Piercing Debate

This week Katie Price has been critisised after posting a photo on Instagram of her daughter, Bunny, with pierced ears at the tender age of eighteen months old. This is one of those sensitive subjects that tends to get even the most laid back of parents riled up. In the red corner you'll have the parenting police shouting 'child abuse' and imploring government bans. In the blue corner the advocates will be defending their choice to put holes through their offspring's earlobes in the name of culture and cuteness. It rattles on and never really comes to any conclusion, but then it never does when it comes to different parenting styles does it?

Being the mum of a boy-child it's probably not something I need to worry about too much. Allegedly 72% of the pierced population are female (I guess this isn't taking into account Mr JT's unfortunate lobe bling during the early 2000's - otherwise known as the Supernoodle era).

But if I did have girls, I still wouldn't do it. My main reason for this is that I wouldn't want to inflict unnecessary pain on a baby or small child. I'm not just talking about the process of shooting metal through their delicate flesh, but the risk of infection afterwards or the very real possibility of them yanking the earrings out - either in deliberate protest of being blinged against their will or in some catastrophic, soft play incident (seriously, can you imagine the blood, the horror, the carnage?) For me, it's just not worth taking the risk over something so unnecessary. I also don't particularly like the look of small children with small earlobes stuffed full of cheap gold and that's just my personal taste. Ultimately, I believe that it's down to Jack to decide if he wants to express himself through the medium of the Claire's Accessories piercing gun when he's of an appropriate age to do so - just like I did.

Those are my opinions and they're reflected in my parenting choices. Does that mean I'll shout them in the face of any parent who disagrees? No. Does it mean I'll take to social media to brand mothers who do choose to pierce their children's ears as 'child abusers?' Definitely not. I don't agree with it, I wouldn't do it and I don't particularly like it but I think comparing it to abuse is ludicrous. And I'm pretty sick of seeing parents attacking each others choices in a bid to justify their own. What can possibly be gained from it?

Celebrities in particular seem to be fair game for such vitriol whether it's Katie Price and the pierced ears, the Beckham's and the dummy or Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes and the high heels. Just because these people are in the public eye, does it mean they deserve such foul and disproportionate abuse for their parenting choices? I don't think so. Providing that the children are well cared and not in mortal danger, it's really nobody else's business.

So while I wouldn't personally pierce my children's ears, I really couldn't give a toss if Katie Price has. Live and let live, I say.